Makato Hagiwara, the designer and curator of the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, reinvented a traditional cookie from his homeland into the familiar fortune cookie we see today. Originally displayed as part of the 1915 San Francisco World’s Fair, they were also served by the Hagiwara family in the Japanese Tea Room and continue to be served today.


Follow this recipe to make your own fortune cookies:

Prep Time: 10 minutes; Bake Time: 8 minutes (Yields 15 fortune cookies)



5 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)

4 egg whites

1 cup superfine sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond extract)

1 pinch salt

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons heavy cream



1.      Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a cookie sheet. Write fortunes on strips of paper about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Generously grease 2 cookie sheets.

2.      Mix the egg whites and sugar until foamy but not stiff. Add flour and salt and blend into the egg white mixture. Add butter, cream and extract and beat until combined.

3.      Pour 1 tablespoon of the batter onto the prepared cookie sheet. Use the back of the spoon to spread the batter into round shapes about 5 inches in diameter. Be careful to make batter as round and even as possible. Do not make too many, because the cookies have to be really hot to form them and once they cool it is too late. Start with 2 or 3 and see how many you can do.

4.      Bake for 8 minutes or until cookie has turned a golden color 1/2 inch wide around the outer edge of the circle. The center will remain pale.

5.      Remove one cookie at a time from the baking sheet, leaving the remaining cookies on the sheet in the oven. You may want to wear white cotton gloves to handle the cookie because it will be hot. You can also use a clean kitchen towel. Flip the cookie over onto your hand, place the fortune in the cookie, close to the middle and fold the cookie in half. Place the folded edge across the rim of a measuring cup and pull the pointed edges down, one on the inside of the cup and one on the outside. Place folded cookies into the cups of a muffin tin or egg carton to hold their shape until firm.

Chinese dessert

Have fun serving these tasty little pockets and share your trivia about their origins with your friends. Let us know how they turned out in the comment section.